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12 Ask now the priests [concerning] the law, saying, If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No; though the garment that toucheth the sin offering is holy, it cannot com13 municate holiness to any thing else. Then said Haggai, If [one
that is] unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be un14 clean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So [is] this people, and so [is] this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so [is] every work of their hands; and that which they offer there [is] unclean; while their hearts are unclean, and their lives irregular, their sacrifices cannot be acceptable; their offerings at the altar are in vain, while they neglect the work I com15 mand them to do. And now, I pray you, consider from this
day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD; from the time that a stop was put 16 to the building: Since those [days] were, when [one] came to an heap of twenty [measures,] there were [but] ten when [one] came to the press fat for to draw out fifty [vessels] out of the press, there were [but] twenty; the harvest and vint17 age produced at most but half of what you expected. I smote
you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands. ; yet ye [turned] not to me, saith the 18 LORD. Consider now from this day and upward, from the
four and twentieth day of the ninth [month, even] from the day that the foundation of the LORD's temple was laid, con19 sider [it.] Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree hath not brought forth from this day will I bless [you ;] it is now November, and so far from harvest, that you cannot guess whether the next year shall be fruitful or not; yet I assure you it shall be a filentiful year: from the day you began the work again I will prosper you.
And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the 21 four and twentieth [day] of the month, saying, Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens 22 and the earth; And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come 23 down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet; set thee in a place of greatest safety, and keep thee secure: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts; a promise of future and final favour to Zerubbabel in particular.
SENSE of God's presence, should engage us to go on resolutely in his work. God promised to be with the Jews while building his temple; so they began. He then, for their encouragement, repeated the promise; and that induced them to persevere, notwithstanding their difficulties and dangers. Let us attend to this in our christian work. It is great, difficult, and important; we have much opposition from without and within; we have need to be strong, to exert ourselves with vigour; and we have the promise of his presence to animate us; his spirit remaineth with us. Let us depend on its aid. Though the state of things now is perhaps worse than in the days of our fathers, yet that should not discourage us; but excite us to be more active in our endeavours, and more earnest in our prayers.
2. Let us rejoice in the accomplishment of this glorious prophecy; and earnestly seek the presence of Christ with his churchThe second temple is now destroyed, and therefore the Messiah is certainly come. He hath come to the nations in general, and come to us in particular; and he is a Saviour every way desirable; admirably suited to our circumstances. Let us rejoice in him as our peace; and regard his presence and blessing as the chief glory of our places of worship: not silver and gold, splendor and decorations, but the pure gospel and grace of Christ; his spirit attending his ordinances. Let us earnestly pray that this may be the glory of the houses where we assemble, and that all our souls may be enrichedjand adorned thereby.
3. Let us be very solicitous not to polluté our offerings by any irregularities. A holy garment would not sanctify other things; but he that was defiled, defiled every thing he touched. An instructive law, intimating that pollution is more easily communicated than holiness. A relation to God's people will not make us holy. Attendance upon ordinances will not save, nor be acceptable, while the hands and heart are polluted. Let us labour then to cleanse our hands and hearts from wickedness, that our worship may be pleasing to God.
4. Let us carefully observe the correspondence which subsists between the providence and the word of God, v. 19. While we neglect our duty, we can expect nothing but blasting providences; but when we return to our duty, we have encouragement to expect God's blessing. Let us attend likewise to the correspondence there is between our prayers and the providence of God. There is a greater agreement between them than is generally observed; and though we are not in this respect under such an equal providence as the Jews were; yet this we shall certainly find, that godliness is profitable to all things, having the promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come,
The Book of the PROPHET
ZECHARIAH was contemporary with Haggai; and, like his, the first part of this prophecy is designed to encourage the people to build the temple in the latter part he treats of the sufferings, death, and kingdom of Christ, in many particulars, not mentioned by eny of the lesser prophets before him; every thing relating to those great events becoming more explicit, in proportion as their accomplishment drew nearer.
This chapter contains an exhortation to repentance, and promises of security and peace while they were building the temple.
1 N the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came
2 chiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, The LORD hath 3 been sore displeased with your fathers. Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. The words are repeated, to remind them how dangerous it was to oppose him, and that his almighty power and maj4 esty ought to dispose them to return to him. Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets, especially Jeremiah, have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and [from] your evil doings; but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD. 5 Your fathers, where [are] they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? those who prophesied, and the people against whom they prophesied, are all dead; but the testimony of facts 6 to the truth of my predictions remains. But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? my words took effect in their punishment, and showed the prophets to be true? and they returned, they repented when it was too late, and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us;
and thus my threatenings denounced by my prophets at this time, will seize you, except ye take warning.
Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which [is] the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Bere8 chiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, I saw by night,
and behold a man, riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that [were] in the bottom; and behind him [were there] red horses, speckled, and white.* 9 Then said I, O my lord, what [are] these? And the angel
that talked with me said unto me, I will show thee what 10 these [be.] And the man that stood among the myrtle trees, the angel who presided over the rest, took as it were the words out of his mouth, and answered and said, These [are they] whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the 11 earth; to manage the affairs of the nations. And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest; the Persian empire is now in a quiet state, therefore it is a proper time to build the temple.
Then the angel of the LORD, the captain of the Lord's hosts, the guardian of Jerusalem, answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these three score and ten years? it being now near sev13 enty years since the city was taken. And the LORD answered
the angel that talked with me [with] good words [and] com14 fortable words. So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, deliver this message to the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy; I am zealous for them 15 with great zeal. And I am very sore displeased with the heathen [that are] at ease; and my judgment shall come ufion them: for I was but a little displeased with Judah, that is, only for a short time, and intended to punish them moderately, and they helped forward the affliction; they gratified their ambition and cruelty, and did all they could to sink and destroy my 16 people. Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to
Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon 17 Jerusalem; the streets and walls shall be regularly built. Cry
yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through
The prophet saw a vision of angels; and of the Lord of them. (that is, of Christ, the captain of the Lord's hosts) like a warrior, reposing himself under some myrtle trees in the heat of the day. The angels are represented as riding on different horses; the red might represent those who presided over countries that were the seat of war; the white. the guardians of those who were in peace; and the speckled, those who were charged both with judgment and mercy, or that were concerned in more various dispensations.
prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; not only Jerusalem, but other cities in Judea shall be inhabited by multitudes, and spread abroad their suburbs and colonies; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem; shall delight in the Jews as his chosen people.
Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. 19 And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What [be] these? And he answered me, These [are] the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem; that is, the neigh bouring nations who hindered the building of the temple; the Samaritans, Arabians, Ammonites, and Philistines, as we read in Nehemiah. Horns were usual emblems of power, as the of 20' fensive power of many beasts lies in their horns. And the LORD 21 showed me four carpenters. Then said I, What come these
to do? And he spake, saying, These [are] the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head : but these are come to fray or affright them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up [their] horn over the land of Judah to scatter it; these are an equal number of instruments which I have provided to destroy their power.
E are here most clearly taught, that God takes notice of and remembers the messages which he hath sent to his people: an instructive thought, v. 4. what messengers have been sent, their different gifts, the messages they have delivered, the pains they have taken, and the warnings they have given. The general command of all his messengers is the same; namely, turn to God, and repent. He is the Lord of hosts; therefore, not to turn to him will involve us in dreadful destruction.
2. Let us reflect on the death of preceding ministers and former generations. Our fathers, and the ministers who preached to them, are gone, and where are they? Faithful ministers are rewarded, and those who obeyed their messages are saved; but on those who did not, the word hath taken hold, and the threatenings of it are executed upon them. Ministers die; but the word of God does not die with them. Its efficacy is the same, through all generations. This word is by the gospel preached to us, and will judge us in the great day.
3. We should rejoice in Christ's superiority to angels, and his guardianship of kingdoms and churches. Let us consider him as the captain of the Lord's hosts, and the captain of our salvation. Angels are subject to him, and are employed by him, either as instruments of vengeance, or of mercy; and they cheerfully and fully execute his commands. He still intercedes for the church; he both defends it against its enemies, and employs his interest in